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November 20, 2017
October 25, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Catholic questions

Written by Jeff Samsonow

When it rains, it pours. And it is surely raining all over the post-election party at Alberta’s Catholic schools. Although this is a storm they’re bringing on themselves. 

I had actually thought we’d be months away from serious questions about whether or not our province should challenge the constitutional protections of the separate school system. We had a new push from a public school trustee to try and pressure the Alberta government into giving all of us the opportunity to elect Catholic trustees, but I figured that would be the only action for a while. 

And then…

Oh, wait. That’s the wrong story. 

Yes, Alberta’s Catholic school superintendents don’t want to teach students about same-sex relationships, masturbation, consent and… well, pretty much anything other than what you expect would be taught about 75 years ago. To say it’s a ridiculous idea is an understatement. It’s also dangerous and harmful that this is being so seriously considered. 

So serious that, when the superintendents were turned down for government funding to work on this parallel sex education curriculum, they drummed up the money in other ways. I’m genuinely shocked this is somehow acceptable to anyone. 

The good news is that neither the education minister nor the premier is going to let teaching like this see the inside of a publicly-funded classroom. 

Which brings us to the part about the constitution. As part of the deal to get Alberta and Saskatchewan into this thing called Canada, the separate school system is enshrined in our governing legislation. It would take a massive amount of work, to say nothing of the courage of a government and politicians, to change things. 

Normally I would look at this one story and say “Well, it’s a big deal but maybe this will blow over, especially with the potential curriculum dead-on-arrival”. But then….

We have a candidate from the recent trustee election asking if she’s being targeted for her campaign, which included more protection and inclusion of LGBTQ students. Another candidate wants the results of his Ward’s race overturned because one of his opponents isn’t completely 100% Catholic (yet). 

So, I think we’re right into the mix of things now. Albertans have to start asking themselves if they need two public school systems when one of them won’t work with the other, it’s willing to put students at risk, and could push out those who don’t abide by the exact same doctrines of Catholicism. 

I’m asking that question.

And I’m not seeing anything today that tells me we need Alberta’s Catholic school system to be funded by our public education dollars. If those working on this Beaverton-joke of a sex ed curriculum have support of other Catholic families they should be absolutely free to set up their own, private, school system. (Which also shouldn’t be funded by public money.) 

We don’t, however, have any constitutional need to put our children into schools that teach them outdated ideas and ideals, if not human rights violating ideas. In Edmonton, the Catholic school district controls a half-billion dollar budget and educates more than 40,000 students. Edmontonians deserve a say in how that board is governed so our next generation isn’t taught to fear, or hate, people different from them. If the school board isn’t willing to non-Catholics have a vote, they no longer deserve to operate in the public system. 

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There’s now a petition behind some of the earlier calls to consider Alberta becoming a single school system province. Like I said, this week appears to have really kickstarted the debate.


At City Hall

Edmonton’s new city council. photo: Edmonton mayor’s office

All of that above and the Edmonton Catholic School District isn’t even back to work like Edmonton city council and the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) are. This is going to be a wild four years.

I’m going to give you a break from more school stuff until Friday, when we’ll take a look at the first meeting of the EPSB and a couple of its first motions. Spoiler alert: I won’t be calling for the potential de-funding of our Public school system too. 

There was a little ceremony to the first official day of work for Edmonton’s new city council. After a public swearing-in, the new council took care of a few administrative items like approving their meeting calendar and committee appointments. Mayor Don Iveson used the first speech of his second term to re-iterate his campaign ideas.

Those ideas included moving forward on new transit plans and LRT expansion, ending Edmonton’s homelessness, diversifying and growing our economy and building a family-friendly city. 

Most of the new city council is likely going to line up behind Iveson on those issues. Here’s one thing each councillor wants to get done this term too.

Edmonton had more women running for council this election, and we doubled our current representation to two women on council. There’s still a lot of sexism against women running for office.

The Broadcast’s roundtable. photo: Twitter (@TrishEstabrooks)

The Broadcast did a special post-election edition with a roundtable of women who ran for office (co-host Trisha Estabrooks was elected to the EPSB board). This is another solid episode of the show, and very much worth listening to as we think about how the election went and where we go next. Plus, the women are all really smart, funny and have great campaign stories.


Actions questioned

There are a pair of investigations in Edmonton right now related to how emergency responders and security guards acted. 

Paramedics and police are having their actions reviewed after a pepper spray attack on a city bus. That’s not the part that’s cause for concern (well, not exactly). It’s how responding officers and paramedics treated one of the passengers that’s under review. While an older, white male passenger seems to have received stellar treatment after the incident, an Indigenous man doesn’t appear to have been helped at all

A pair of Walmart security guards are also having their actions reviewed by the company (if not also by their employer) after witnesses recorded what they thought was excessive force. The woman certainly doesn’t appear to be resisting detention while the two guards keep her pinned to the ground. 

On a related note, criminal lawyers are asking the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) to install video cameras in its patrol vehicles to capture what goes on in and around them. The lawyers are willing to lobby for the EPS to get the cameras funded. It’s not clear, however, if the EPS wants to install the cameras. The police force also doesn’t use body cams, and doesn’t look likely to have officers wear those either. The push for cameras, of course, comes from a place of wanting more transparency of police encounters with the public it serves. 


Around the city

image: Twitter (@APTNInvestigates)

APTN has taken an in-depth look at the story of Cindy Glaude. Cindy’s Story takes a look at the case that could potentially change the ways a lot of sexual offences are handled in the country. This has been a case that’s exposed not just problems with trials related to sex crimes, and people working in the sex trade, but also Indigenous people who are party to a trial. 

If you spend time watching or reading a story today, I recommend it be Cindy’s Story. Other cases highlighted in the story show we have much work to do in our justice system to be impartial to more than just someone accused of a crime.

The Edmonton-area has a new Member of Parliament (MP). Dane Lloyd will continue the Conservative representation of the Sturgeon River-Parkland riding, replacing Rona Ambrose in a byelection this week. Lloyd’s first potential private member’s bill is a law-and-order pitch to deny parole to anyone found guilty of a killing who won’t reveal where the victim’s remains can be found. Obviously, that’s a big problem for someone who is wrongfully convicted. Lloyd’s other pre-election attention was focused on comments about guns, Confederate monuments, “progressive thought police” and feminism

You can now bank in Facebook, if you’re an ATB customer. Speaking of the power of social media, a father found his long-lost twin sons here in Edmonton

If you can get the vaccine, get a flu shot this fall

The Edmonton Sun has a new website and reader comments are back.
Do. Not. Read. The. Comments.

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